McNamara: Bay of Pigs invasion 'dumb'
HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- The ill-fated
U.S-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in
1961 was a "dumb" plan that should never
have gone ahead, former U.S. Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara told an academic
conference in Havana.
Although McNamara could not attend the
three-day session in Cuba on the 40th
anniversary of one of the Cold War's most
emblematic battles, he sent a message that was
read out at a closed-door session, a participant
said late Thursday.
"He basically said that this was a really dumb
operation. The Bay of Pigs invasion was
wrong and never should have occurred,"
Thomas Blanton, head of the National Security
Archive, which co-sponsored the
conference, told reporters.
President Fidel Castro's troops decimated within 72
hours the 1,500-man Cuban exile landing force, which
had been expecting more direct military backup from
then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy's administration.
McNamara's note also criticized later CIA plots to
assassinate Castro, Blanton said.
It had been hoped that McNamara, an aide to
Kennedy during the invasion and Defense
Secretary at the time of the 1962 Cuban Missile
Crisis, would attend the conference.
But there was no shortage of other key characters
from the era, ranging from Castro himself on the
Cuban side, to members of the doomed 2506
Brigade of exile invaders, ex-CIA agents, and
aides and relatives of Kennedy on the U.S. side.
"We are having a rich, respectful, scholarly
dialogue," Blanton added after the first day of the
conference during which Castro, and other senior
communist leaders and ex- soldiers, sat opposite
their former foes.
A key architect of the Vietnam War, McNamara
has also said in the past that conflict was "terribly wrong".
Copyright 2001 Reuters.